WASHINGTON, D.C.- While businesses that sell marijuana, Planned Parenthood abortion mills and lottery ticket agents remain open, churches are still closed, under emergency orders issued by a number of governors.
Out of all of those, the only one that is a guaranteed right under the United States Constitution is freedom of religion.
That evidently doesn’t resonate with many of these governors, who apparently are enjoying their newfound power. However, on Friday, President Trump announced new guidance from the Centers for Disease Control that will classify churches as “essential.’’
With that new guidance, the president is asking governors to allow churches to open “right now.”
According to Fox News, the new policy change was announced during a short briefing at the White House. The policy covers churches, synagogues, and mosques.
“The governors need to do the right thing and allow these very important essential places of faith to open right now—for this weekend,” Trump said. “If they don’t do it, I will override the governors.”
“In America, we need more prayer, not less,” the president added.
The opening of churches has been a point of contention since the coronavirus “emergency” lockdowns started, with some churches defying governors’ orders which ordered churches closed.
Some churches attempted to skirt the order by having “drive-in” services, however in one particular case in Kentucky, that was thwarted by the Democratic Gov. Andy Beshear. However, a judge overruled Beshear at the beginning of May.
While the president does not appear to have the authority to override individual governors, he has been taking exception to certain businesses being open while churches remain shuttered.
Last month, Attorney General Barr said that coronavirus closures in states and localities had to be “applied evenly and not single out religious organizations,” Fox said.
“Some governors have deemed the liquor stores and abortion clinics as essential but have left out churches and other houses of worship. It’s not right. So, I’m correcting this injustice and calling houses of worship essential.”
Under the new guidelines issued by the CDC, they say that “millions of Americans embrace worship as an essential part of life,” but also warned that “gatherings present a risk for increasing the spread of COVID-19.”
So, under this logic, restaurants are safe, but churches are not. Some people have said that churches are more than capable of maintaining the required “social distancing,” while taking other protective measures.
The CDC guidelines encourage the use of cloth face coverings during services, limiting the size of gatherings, social distancing during services and suspending or decreasing choirs and singing in church since “singing may contribute to transmission of COVID-19, possibly through emission of aerosols,” the CDC said.
Just this past week, the CDC issued operational guidelines for schools, businesses and other organizations can use as states slowly begin the process of reopening from government-mandated shutdowns.
There was not, however any guidance in the document for religious groups. This was because the White House was concerned about some of the restrictions included in the document, the Associated Press reported.
As far as individual cities are concerned, most of them have been taking recommendations from their governors on the process for reopening. For example, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s executive order is still in effect for New York City, which has served as the epicenter for the outbreak in the U.S.
“Houses of worship never closed in New York City, but have been under reasonable capacity requirements that prohibit large gatherings,” said Olivia Lapeyrolerie, Bill de Blasio’s deputy press secretary.
“We will continue to work closely with faith leaders to ensure people can safely worship during these stressful times but will not take any steps that could jeopardize New Yorkers’ health.”
The president has been hearing from religious leaders across the country, who believe that under the current circumstances, people who would normally turn to religion to get them through the crisis are being deprived of that right due to the church closures.
They said that families may be grieving the death of a family member or loved one or struggling with job losses.
Thursday, the president held a conference call with 1,600 pastors and faith leaders from across the U.S. Among those on the call was Tony Perkins, who is the president of the Family Research Council.
That particular group was instrumental in helping President Trump during the 2016 election runup, and Perkins and the president have maintained strong ties as the president has done with Christian leaders throughout his presidency.
Prior to Friday’s announcement, the president had hinted at the decision when he addressed the CDC on trying to find a way to open churches and other houses of worship as the pandemic drags on.
“We’ve got to get our churches open,” he said on Thursday.
The CDC’s guidance comes as some power-mad governors appear to be doubling down on placing restrictions on churches.
For example, in Chicago they have begun fining churches that do not comply with Democratic Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s stay-at-home order. The Chicago Police Department told Fox News that three churches will be penalized for services they held on May 17.
In one case, the Philadelphia Romanian Church of God last Sunday limited its congregation to 75 people on Sunday—less than 10 percent of its capacity—and is one of the churches getting fined by the city of Chicago. So, while Mayor Lori Lightfoot is allowed to violate the order to get a haircut, churches protected under the first amendment are not.
In the case of Philadelphia Romanian, congregants had to meet 13 requirements to attend services—including having no coronavirus symptoms and being under the age of 65. Clearly, they went above and beyond in trying to ensure the safety of their parishioners.
Pritzker, who is one of the more power-mad governors, has previously defended his orders barring people from exercising their first amendment rights.
“I know how hard it is to break from traditional celebrations of togetherness, But I believe passionately that adapting our expressions of faith in these times is one of the most faithful acts of all,” he said in a tweet last month.
April hosts many important celebrations for some of the largest religions.
I know how hard it is to break from traditional celebrations of togetherness.
But I believe passionately that adapting our expressions of faith in these times is one of the most faithful acts of all.
— Governor JB Pritzker (@GovPritzker) April 12, 2020
A number of churches in the state have filed lawsuits against Pritzker in which they argued that Pritzker’s limits on houses of worship are unconstitutional.
Pritzker, of course is another politician who follows the “do what I say, not as I do” policy of political hypocrisy.
His wife and daughter went to their multi-million dollar Florida estate, allegedly according to Pritzker before the stay at home order went into effect. Pritzker dismissed questions about his family leaving the state to go to Florida, in essence saying it was nobody’s business.
Meanwhile the First Amendment, which reads; “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” apparently doesn’t apply in a pandemic.
There is apparently a “pandemic exception” to the Bill of Rights.
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